the sound of ice melting

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colonnades of golden light
through the twilight of the forest
in the waning of the winter
stillness escalates to spring
crystalized froth calves into cascades
breaking free of frozen silence
the sound of ice melting
quickening in me

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nymphs

wisps of mist
the sighs of nymphs
frozen in the sleep abyss
the crystalline dreamscape
embrace of winter
time

awakened by the simple kiss
the warm caress of their dear lovers lips
their lover
who everyone’s lover is
the sun

shift

snowbanks contract
in the relatively sweltering
early springlike temperatures
of this late winter thaw
squeezing out the juice of life
to the cold and softening earth below
where crocuses and daffodils
lie dormantly in dreaming
of days when they uncurl from sleep
and unfurl through the surface
offering their tendrilous light
right up into the sun

eclipsing

Lying in my bed as the moonlight pours in through the window…

charcoal smudged grayscale sky
rubbed soft by delicate fingertips caressing
transparent dome of midnight heavens
accentuating gradual contour and volume
layers of bands of dissipating rogue clouds
wandering out way past their bedtime
swaddling close and intermittently revealing
the haloed glow of scarlet tinged moonlight
liquid luminescent mirrored reflection
of the blazing star that is king of our universe
coyly assured of his place as the sun
playing hide and seek on the other side of the earth

North Peak

It is raining in the valley and
The snow pack melts into clear pools and rivulets
That soak deep into wooden frames of homes and bones and
Everything is damp and cold and rotting.

Above the town
A belt of clouds encircles the waists of mountains and
Hugs the moisture into the hillside.
Above there still
The sky breaks clear and
It’s windy and brisk with aliveness.

I alone contemplate
The vast expanse of spreading white
A scar torn from the arms of forests and descending
Carve serpentine curls through beads of frosted ice and snow
Molded through freeze and thaw into
Tiny grains of crystalline sand. And

Higher still towards the sky
Clouds cling to conical boughs of pine trees
Snagged like strands of cotton webbing slowly spreading and
Holding the cold silent stillness in
To feminine contours of distant mountaintops
Soft fresh cloudsnow deposited in their wake.

It is still winter here. 

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the intimacy of presence

This one I love.
“When you are under this influence, you cannot get caught up in the misery of the world”
~ *Simonne
Poetry, and love, won’t allow escape from the intimacy of presence…

Sur la route de San Romano
by Andre Breton
translated by Simonne Guillerm Allen

Poetry is made like love in a bed
Its undone sheets are the beginning of things
Poetry is done in the woods

It has the space it needs
Not this one but the one that depends

On the eyes of the hawk
The dew on the snake-grass
The fogged souvenir of a bottle of Gewürztraminer on a silver tray
A high stem of tourmaline over the sea
And the road of mental adventure
Which rises up abruptly
One pause and she is mixed up right away.

It is not screamed on the rooftop
It is unproper to leave the door open
Or call witnesses

The school of fish the hedge of chickadees
The rail and the entrance of a great station
The reflection from two banks
The furrows in the bread
The bubble of the brook
The days of the calendar
The St. John’s Wort

The act of love and the act of poetry
Are not compatible
With the reading of the newspaper loudly.

The direction of the ray of the sun
The blue light of the return of the blow of the axe of the woodcutter
The thread of the kite shaped like a heart or a fish keep-net
The beating in rhyme of the tail of the beaver
The diligence of the lightning
The throw of the sugar coated pill from the top of the steps
The avalanche

The chamber of prestigious things
No sir, it is not the eighth chamber
Nor the vapor of the bedroom on a Sunday evening

The dancing figures executed transparently above the palms
The delineation of the outline of the body of a woman from the throw of daggers against the wall
The light undulation of the smoke
The curls of your hair
The curve of the sponge from the Philippines
The snares of the coral snake
The entrance of ivy in the ruins
She has all of time in front of her.

The poetic embrace like the fleshy one
As long as it lasts
Forbids all escape on the misery of the world.

*For more about Simonne see:
https://deniseporterkemp.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/translation/
https://deniseporterkemp.wordpress.com/2014/03/24/imprint/

Imprint

Simonne* translated this poem today. I breathe these poems in and they reveal themselves to me like the resonance of a dream I am sharing with the poet. They encapsulate a moment in time or an emotion like a memory held in a raindrop that seeps inside me as Simonne reads me her translation and I transcribe the words into into the computer. We are painting in mental imagery together, the poets, Simonne and I. Once it is in the computer, we read at least one other translation to inspire us, line by line comparing it to her own, sometimes adapting her version minimally to make sure her very direct translation expresses in English grammar what we feel the poet was articulating in French, sometimes adopting a more precise word if we happen upon one. We then read this almost final version together, she reading a line in French and then I in English, back and forth, to make sure we like the final image it presents. 

This is a very sad and beautiful poem by Jacques Prevert, a French poet and playwright of the twentieth century. He was one of the original members of the surrealist movement, who eventually rejected both the movement and its founder Andre Breton. Perhaps more on this as I research further, I am fascinated by the sudden intimacy I feel with these deep, sensitive and passionate writers. 

This particular poem published in 1945 reflects, to me, the imprint of a sense memory of an amorous moment, of an experience of beauty that touches us deeply and allows a sense of connection that stays with us even if the encounter is brief, even if the encounter is only witnessed rather than directly shared. And perhaps if and when remembered is a tether to that beauty, to that connection, that can transcend erasure, even from the shadow of war, from the pouring rain that rots and washes everything away until nothing remains, nothing but maybe the resonance of memory.  

Barbara
de Jacques Prevert
translated by Simonne Guillerm Allen

Remember Barbara
It was raining on Brest that day, constantly,
And you went walking, smiling
Radiant, delighted, dripping under the rain
Remember Barbara
It was raining continuously on Brest
And I crossed you on Siam Street
You were smiling
And as for me, I was smiling also
Did you remember Barbara
You whom I did not know
You who did not know me
Do you remember
Do you remember at least that day
Don’t forget
A man was sheltered under a porch
He shouted your name
Barbara
And you ran towards him under the rain
Dripping, delighted, radiant
And you threw yourself in his arms
Do you remember that, Barbara?
And no hard feelings if I use the familiar “tu” with you
I say “tu” to all that I love
Even if I’ve seen them only once
I say “tu” to all that love each other
Even if I do not know them
Remember Barbara
Don’t forget
This rain wise and happy
On your happy face,
On this happy town
This rain on the sea
On the arsenal
On the boat from Ouessant
Oh, Barbara
What stupidity the war is
What has become of you?
Under this rain of iron,
Of fire, of bloody steel
And the one who holds you tight in his arms
Amorously
Is he dead, vanished, or still alive?
Oh, Barbara
It is raining constantly
Like it was raining before
But it is not quite the same and
Everything is damaged
It’s the rain of terrible and desolate mourning
Its no longer a storm
Of iron blood
But quite simply clouds,
Which die like dogs
Dogs which disappear
In the course of the water towards Brest
And go to rot far off
Far off, very far off from Brest
Of which nothing remains.

Prevert often collaborated with musician Joseph Kosma to turn his poetry into music, this version is performed by one of Simonne’s favorites, Yves Montand.

*For more on SImonne and the work we are doing together reference ~
https://deniseporterkemp.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/translation/